Impact study moving ahead with alarming speed

To the editor:

Sadly, the most recent feasibility study for the proposed limited access Mid-State Corridor (formerly known as the Jasper-Huntingburg bypass) addressed only the positive aspects to the business and trucking industry this transcontinental highway could have without factoring in any of the negative aspects. Despite the fact that this proposed destructive highway would have untold negative effects on the small communities here, this latest multi-million dollar environmental impact study is moving ahead with alarming speed and apparent disregard for the fate of the entire region.

It’s noteworthy that three public meetings will be held next week, with only one scheduled for Dubois County on Thursday, August 8 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Jasper High School cafeteria. The other two will be held in French Lick and Washington with none for either Martin or Spencer Counties which the route would also pass through. Among many other economic impacts which this study needs to address include the agricultural impacts, the long-term value of forests,  the added cost of crime and pollution that accompanies such long distance interstates, as well as increased stress on all resources, both natural and cultural.

Another large question is whether such undiversified reliance on transportation-based manufacturing is healthy both long and short term. In addition to the economic aspects, both negative or positive, the study also needs to address the quality of life impacts to local residents. This is especially vital given the high employment rate here, existing pollution, long term water needs, and the volatility of a rapidly changing climate.

In a state that already boasts the greatest number of interstate highways, clearly, it’s time to reconsider whether the place and time is right for yet another mid-state limited access highway. Considering the 300 million dollar price tag for just the Dubois County portion, and the many unanswered questions, I encourage all residents to attend this meeting and speak out for justice, and on behalf of the important values which go beyond money, values that make a place worth calling home.

—Jeanne Melchior

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